CPS Cuts Top Teachers... Teacher 'coaches' dumped by Huberman

While Chicago schools chief Ron Huberman is demanding that so-called 'unsatisfactory' rated teachers be immediately fired, he swifty terminated what many would consider the cream of the Chicago teaching profession. The termination of 54 tenured teachers, until a few weeks ago considered among Chicago's best, becomes final on July 1, 2010.

Two weeks ago, CPS Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman notified 54 teachers in the Chicago "New Teacher Center" that he was firing them due to the budget cuts. Those teachers — who were mentoring first and second year teachers across the city — were all either National Board Certified or about to be. Their ranks also included Golden Apple Teacher of the Year winners (or those who had been nominated for the Golden Apple) and were all teachers who had received only excellent or superior ratings their entire teaching careers.

During the same time he was eliminating teachers who had been proven and selected because they were the "best," Huberman was trying to distract attention from what he was doing by trying to focus on the elimination of what he called "bad" teachers. To add cruetly to the irony of Huberman demanding only the best teach Chicago's children while firing them at the same time - all these highly-rated teachers from the New Teacher Center were terminated. That means that they are no longer CPS employees and are not allowed to work or even substitute in the system until they reapply and do everything from drug testing and background checks to submitting their resumes and applying again.

While much public attention has been focused on the possibility that Huberman might raise class sizes to 35, thereby eliminating as many as 2,700 veteran teachers, across the city teachers were being eliminated, often without public outcry. Approximately 700 teachers lost their jobs in turnaround schools — due to what Huberman's "Performance Management" system claimed was the poor performance of the school. The teachers among those 700 teachers and others eliminated by "turnaround" are classified as a displaced teachers." That means they will continue to receive their regular salary and benefits for one more year in which they can substitute and try to find another job before they are terminated.

Those teachers who were eliminated by Huberman from the New Teacher Center are not being classified as "displaced teachers."

"We have been redefined as honorably terminated even though we've proven ourselves to be the best teachers in the system," said Phyllis Adkins, one of the 54 mentor teachers laid off. Phyllis Adkins attended the CORE meeting on Monday, June 28, to strategize how they can fight back.

Adkins said CORE will help them file a grievance because the Board has violated Appendix H of the teachers' contract. According to Adkins and CORE contract analysts, Appendix H stipulates that terminated teachers should get 10 months to look for a job.

The teachers recently fired — including city-wide social workers and special education teachers — have been meeting at Rainbow PUSH to discuss what avenues they can take to save their jobs.

"I'm still in shock, but my first question is why are we not eligible for the 10 month grace period where we sub and look for another job?" Lorna Wilson, a city wide special education teacher recently terminated, wrote in the CORE listserve. "This would at the very least allow us medical coverage. 2. Why did we pay union dues this year? We got no protection. 3. Why do we lose our sick days? 4. If the coaches who were in "honorable" standing have someone helping them find a job, why are we not getting help? 5.They're and we're teachers, why is there a difference being made? 6. Can we file a class action law suit? I'm so frustrated."

Seven special education city-wide teachers attended the CORE meeting on Monday and shared their stories.

"Because of involvement with CORE we are heard!!!!!," wrote Pat Gerard, one of the fired city-wide special education teachers.

Tensions seem to be skyrocketing this summer as the newly elected Chicago Teachers Union leaders are getting bombarded by calls from frustrated teachers who are being cut and wonder how they will continue to pay their mortgage or medical bills, before the new Union leaders even officially take office July 1.

Adkins said the Board told them they could apply for unemployment compensation after June 30 — the date they are officially terminated. Even though Adkins already applied at a turnaround school, the school will not be able to contact her CPS email address (which she can no longer log into).

Adkins told Substance that she is a National Board certified, 17-year-veteran teacher. She exudes teaching excellence. She is endorsed in math, science, social studies and language arts, and is certified in dance, drama, and instrumental music. She was named the WGN Teacher of the Month and is listed in the Who's Who of American Teachers from 2002 - 2007 — which is a list of the top 1 percent of the nation's teachers, she said.

She worked at Dunbar High School as a math teacher, as well as Clissold, Nicolson and Stagg Elementary Schools.

Adkins said she has already been offered a job at a charter school on the southside, but she isn't sure she would want to take it. For one, she would have to take a $24,000 pay cut and most likely receive far fewer benefits, although the charter said it would continue to fund her pension.

"I have my loyalty to public schools and I don't agree with the concept of a charter school," Adkins said.

Even though Adkins and her fellow mentor teachers had three year contracts with the Board of Education, they were told that they had to be terminated because there was no more funding.

The Chicago New Teacher Center was funded in its first year by the New Teacher Center, a non-profit organization based in California.

Their website states: "The New Teacher Center (NTC) is a national organization dedicated to improving student learning by accelerating the effectiveness of teachers and school leaders. NTC strengthens school communities through proven mentoring and professional development programs, online learning environments, policy advocacy, and essential research."

The New Teacher Center was initially established in 1998 as part of the University of California at Santa Cruz before becoming a non-profit organization that is funded by corporate entites such as Goldman Sachs, Boeing, Cisco Foundation, and Metlife, the website states.

The second year, CPS funded the Chicago branch until the teachers were told there was no more money. However, Adkins and others say they believe the relationship with the non-profit organization will continue, meaning the services the top Chicago teachers once provided will most likely be provided by cheaper labor, not the cream of the crop. 


July 1, 2010 at 12:29 AM

By: Curious

A Retired Principal

The top teachers have been cut by Hubie. What about those 80 principals that he plans to fire? Who are they? Have those principals received notice yet? When will it be made public?

July 6, 2010 at 9:29 PM

By: A

“Honorably Dismissed “

Check out the CPS board reports

July 7, 2010 at 4:15 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

80 principals fired. Sun-Times disinformation and Huberman lies.

For more than a month, people have been asking Substance to report on the 80 principals Ron Huberman supposedly was 'firing' this summer. It never happened and never will. More fiction in the news columns of one of Chicago's daily newspapers. That story was just another example of Huberman's disinformation campaign, which is often aided and abetted in the news columns of the Sun-Times and Tribune.

The "80 principals to be fired" story resulted in some commenting by teachers, but Huberman was lying, as he usually does. The guy has one real talent: making up facts on his feet, and then counting on the reporters who play stenographer for him never checking one of them. Think "deficit". He gets away with it, as he can (think how reporters for the other media simply quote anything he says, as in this case) without anyone checking the facts. That's why he rarely holds press conferences, and when he does (as on June 23 with Mayor Daley) the mayor's press secretary shuts the thing down when someone asks a precise question (as happened when John Kugler of Substance asked Huberman why if he wanted to get the best teachers in the classrooms he had just fired 58 mentor coaches...).

But back to those "80 principals."

The only way principals can be dismissed is by a vote of the Board of Education. At the June 23, 2010, Board meeting, three principals (not 80) were removed from their jobs and their contracts terminated. But look at those Board Reports carefully. Those three principals were set up, and they were hammered as an example for the rest of the city's principals. The three principals Huberman recommended for termination at the June 23 meeting were "fired" by the Board because their schools had "failed" — based on low test scores!

The real story about those three "fired principals" is a continuation of the story of vicious segregation, white supremacy, and vicious racism under Daley and his Hubermans (beginning with Paul Vallas and continuing through Arne Duncan to Ron Huberman, the Great White Hope era of Chicago school politics).

All three schools (Burke, Guggenhiem, Herzl) were all-black.

All were in the heart of the ghetto serving populations that were majority very poor. And one (Guggenheim) had successfully protested closing last January.

The real story is the story of how heroes are destroyed in Chicago today because the mass media (led by the Sun-Times and Tribune) fawningly repeated the lies of the Great White Hope cadre, mostly Ron Huberman and Richie Daley, when school stories are reported.

But there is more. While getting rid of experienced teachers and principals, Huberman is going to continue to add to the ranks of patronage hirelings who have no classroom experience and no real commitment to public education (he's still at it, hiring patronage hacks while firing teachers and principals, as we've been reporting exclusively in Substance).

Also at the June 23 Board meeting, 24 principals retired and were treated to Board resolutions honoring them (and given plaques, I'm told, for their honorable service).

If you believed the Sun-Times report about "80 principals" about to be fired, then you are still waiting for the other 77 to go. It will never happen, despite the fact that it was "news" in this town. Fiction is the dominant "news" narrative in the land of Richard M. Daley and Ron Huberman.

(If you want to hoot, go back to the August 2009 issue of Chicago magazine and read that silly hagiographic fawning major story about how 'tough ex-cop' — he was a big hero on bicycle patrol — and 'numbers man' — his undergraduate training is in English Literature, with graduate work at one of those shake and bake University of Chicago program for Daley's flunkies — Ron Huberman was coming to town to shake up things in the schools).

But people who believed that Huberman was "firing" 80 "bad principals", probably also believed him since January 19, 2010, when he began playing Chicken Little about the "deficit" (er., it's really a "shortfall", which is sort of like a "deficit", but not really -- because a deficit can be audited but a "shortfall" is more a metaphor)...

I hope you get what I mean.

People who still believe that fairy tale about "80 principals," maybe can get the names of all of them from the Sun-Times reporter who reported that bit of news — or maybe from Ron Huberman. If anyone can get him to answer a phone call.

July 7, 2010 at 8:49 PM

By: George is correct

Huberman owns up

Mr. Huberman informed CPAA that he was misquoted about 80 principals by the suntimes. This was reported in the CPAA Lamp magazine--as a retired princial, I get it.

July 11, 2010 at 2:38 PM

By: just curious

fired principals

what about the principal at Tilden? did she retire or was she fired?

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